A bid by two sisters to have name suppression of a man who sexually abused them 40 years ago quashed has been rejected by a judge.

Christchurch sisters Karen Beaumont and Anne-Marie Forsyth wanted to expose the man who sexually abused them when they were aged between 10 and 14 in the 1970s.

They took their battle to name and shame the man, referred to in court simply as 'A', to the High Court at Christchurch in what was considered a landmark judicial review.

However, in a judgement released today, Justice Cameron Mander ruled that since it's been two decades since the man was convicted, publication of his name now would likely cause him "extreme hardship".

Advertisement

Publication of his name after such a long period would be "quite out of the ordinary", the judge concluded.

Two decades after the sisters were sexually abused, they lodged a complaint with police.

The man was charged and in May 1994, a district court judge made an interim name suppression order.

A lawyer for the women, Nikki Pender earlier said the victims were not consulted before that suppression order was made.

After a three-day jury trial at Christchurch District Court in 1995, the man was convicted on five counts of sexual offending and jailed for 12 months.

The suppression order was never reassessed and remained in place.

The man's criminal record was later "circulated widely", Ms Pender said.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST) published it on its website.

Advertisement

In 2010, a complaint over SST's publication was lodged with the Privacy Commissioner.

Later, the Human Rights Commission also laid proceedings against SST for breach of human rights.

SST unsuccessfully appealed the orders and removed the man's details from their website.

Meanwhile, the sisters were "largely oblivious" to the actions.

In 2013, they applied to become party to the privacy proceedings.

They also applied to Christchurch District Court for an order permitting publication of their names, which was later granted.

Ms Pender said that "at a very high level" the original suppression order was "inappropriate".

Furthermore, it should never have remained in place, she argued, and was again assessed as being inappropriate once the sisters themselves had their own name suppression lifted.

Since he was sentenced, the man has been able to live a life on a "false premise", Ms Pender said, with people not knowing is a convicted sex offender.

The man's lawyer, Jonathan Eaton QC told the court that the sisters' bid to have their attacker's name suppression revoked was "grossly inappropriate and unfair", given the "extraordinary" 20-year delay in lodging the court action.

The lawyer argued that there would be a "real unfairness" to the man if the suppression order was to be revoked.

"The passage of time and its impact on memory, the emotional response of the applicants and the media hype all conspire to remove any prospect this case could be fairly reported in 2015," his submission stated.

"The scope... the potential, if the applicants are successful here, is extraordinary."